New York, New York — A student at New York University recently sparked heated debate when they secretly notified their fellow classmates that they had filed a complaint against their professor for allegedly calling the Bible “a book of spells” and “the original Harry Potter.”
Students at the university run a Facebook page called “NYU Secrets” where students can anonymously share private information or write about matters that they do not wish to discuss out loud. Secrets have reportedly ranged from sexual matters to spying on others to problems with grades.
However, when one student recently vented about their professor’s alleged continued references to the Bible as being related to witchcraft, it stirred a firestorm of controversy.
“ConWest teacher freshman year for ‘antiquity and the 19th century’ referred to the Bible as a ‘Book of Spells’ and ‘The original Harry Potter’ regularly when he would use it as a piece of the lecture,” the anonymous student wrote. “I am not even that religious, but found it so disgusting and disrespectful that I had no choice but to file a complaint. He no longer teaches classes at NYU.”
Many students who read the “secret” were divided over the issue. Some applauded the anonymous poster for filing the complaint, and others didn’t think the professor’s comments were a big deal and that they should have let it go.
“I’m a pretty hardcore atheist, but even I think (the original poster) was correct in doing what s/he did,” one student remarked. “A professor should never use his or her position of power to proselytize. No one was learning anything by the professor insulting the Bible. It’s completely irrelevant and unprofessional.”
“This has nothing to do with the plausibility of Biblical stories,” another stated. “We could sit and argue that all day and we would just agree to disagree. The issue is that a member of NYU’s faculty would feel comfortable crudely insulting the beliefs of his students (and a large portion of the world population).”
“[T]he Bible has talking snakes, pregnant virgins, and a magical boat that can somehow fit every animal in the world. Yeah, he was definitely ‘wrong’ in saying that,” a dissenting student responded sarcastically. “5 bucks says that if a Christian professor said something offensive towards non religious people, dude would still be teaching.”
“The Bible and Christianity as a whole is deeply embedded in magic and sorcery,” wrote yet another. “I honestly hope that your ignorance did not get someone fired.”
In response to the growing debates on the Facebook page, Jess Littman of the university newspaper published an article entitled “Stop the Hate on NYU Secrets.”
“The NYU Secrets page allows more room for judgment than the real world. Anyone can post comments below any secret. Usually they offer support and solidarity, but a few mean comments overshadow the rest,” Littman wrote. “[I]n one comment, a student criticized his or her professor’s extremely secular interpretation of the Bible. Some replied with comments that furthered the discussion of Christianity, but others posted comments that were far more offensive than what the professor said.”
“I can’t say these mean, insensitive, frequently misinformed commentators will have consequences if they continue to disparage the secret-posters,” the article continued. “I can only hope that they will consider the consequences of their posts for others: The person they’re insulting has found in their comment acrimony where they sought support, and others may feel like they can’t post secrets in the future for fear of their peers’ judgment, even if it is anonymous.”
While some accused the student for being the reason for the professor’s disappearance from the university, others state that if he was fired, it likely had nothing to do with the complaint.